Tuesday, July 17 2007
I left San Francisco for LA today. I had an uneventful cab ride to Oakland airport and a mundane flight from Oakland to LA. I am writing this sitting in the LAX international terminal waiting for my flight to Santiago, Chile where I spend two days before going on to the Valle Nevado ski resort. There has been lots of snow in Valle Nevado so I can not wait to get there. I have a 10 hour flight ahead of me.
It was a long flight down below the equator.
Wednesday, July 18 2007
It took 11 hours to fly from LA to Santiago. I did not sleep more than an hour or two on the flight. Finally landed at Santiago airport at 6:30 am local time. I was met by my transportation guy and it was a quick trip to the Sheraton downtown. I was at the hotel by 8:00 am so my room was not available and I had to leave my luggage and head out for a walk.
The snow capped Andes are the backdrop for Santiago.
The walk gave me excellent views of the city and the hill that has a statue of Mother Mary on it known as the Immaculate Conception. I met my first friend in Chile which turned out to be a stray dog. He could not introduce himself to me as he did not speak any English so I called him El Dogo. He did not seem to mind as he followed me for the rest of my walk. People seemed to think he was my dog. We parted company when I boarded the gondola to ride up the Immaculate Conception hill. More views of the city where had at the top of the hill.
A statue of the virgin herself.
There was a big statue of Mother Mary and a church there also. When I came back down the gondola my friend El Dogo had departed. I got back to the hotel and ate lunch. My room was ready so I slept for a few hours. I got up and ate dinner then went back to bed for a full sleep until 10:00 am the next day.
My new friend, El Dogo.
Thursday, July 19 2007
Got up feeling good and well rested. Ate breakfast and headed out to explore Santiago El Centro; which is the center of town — see how my Spanish is improving already. I walked from the hotel to the Metro. On the way I came across a curious show by a young girl in the middle of a busy intersection; I have no idea what she was doing but she was having fun.
An unknown tradition of waving flags at cars.
At El Centro I walked by many churches and museums. At the center of El Centro was a big hill not unlike the hill of the Immaculate Conception this is the Cerro Sta. Lucia. (I assume these hills all over Santiago are volcanic cinder cones). At the top of Cerro Sta. Lucia was a castle and church; well it was more of a fortification than a castle.
A castle on a hill in the center of town.
More excellent views of the city were to be had there. The Andes mountains were always in the background of the views of the city. However, by this time of the day the regular Santiago smog had settled in and was obscuring most of the view. I was sitting in the park at the top of the hill enjoying the peace and quite when there was a very loud explosion! I jumped up and looked at two guards that were there (guards were at every tourist site I went to) but they just smiled and did not seem the slightest bit worried. I figured it was a ceremonial cannon shoot or something like that. While heading down the hill-park-castle I meet my second friend in Chile; yes you guessed it another dog. I named this one El Pucho and just as the other did, this one also followed me around like I was his master.
Dressed up llamas.
After following me for a few blocks he lost interest and left. I ate lunch in the old part of town known as the Barrio Bellavista. This area is on the other side of the Immaculate Conception hill which I had gone up the first day in town. I ordered what I thought was going to be a glass of wine with lunch but instead I had a whole bottle to myself. I could not be fussed with trying to explain I just wanted a glass with the waiter that spoke no English so I drank half the bottle and was very merry for the rest of the afternoon. At the zoological gardens I was confronted by llamas. There were many street vendors there trying to get you to sit on a llama and have your picture taken. I did not sit on one but I did get a few pictures.